One of the oldest and
still most common kind of heating plant for the home is the coal
A good coal furnace fired with high-grade
fuel will give very satisfactory service with minimum effort on
the part of the owner.
When people complain about the work
required to coax heat from their coal furnaces, the fault is generally
with the fuel, the chimney, or the manner in which the furnace is
Efficient operation of any coal-burning
furnace is largely dependent upon the chimney.
Any leaks about the chimney will interfere
with the draft and prevent the furnace from working properly.
The stove pipe from the furnace to
the chimney should slant upward and be sealed tightly into both
furnace and chimney.
There are many minor points connected with
operating a coal furnace that should not be overlooked, especially if
you are having difficulty in keeping the furnace operating properly.
First of all, put only coal on the fire,
never rubbish of any sort. Ashes should not be used, as they sometimes
are, to bank the fire for the night. Never poke a fire, as this will mix
the hot coals with the ashes and form clinkers.
If the basement is tightly shut, air will
not circulate properly, the draft will be feeble, and the fire will burn
poorly. Check to see that all the furnace doors shut tightly and that
there are no leaks around the check damper when it is closed.
Fuel for a coal furnace
There are three kinds of coal used in the
home coal furnace, anthracite, coke, and bituminous. Anthracite is probably
the most widely used. It is very hard, and because it is low in volatiles
it burns without smoke. It does not tend to swell and cake together as
do some other coals, and it ignites easily.
Coke is similar to anthracite
in that it burns without smoke, and it can be fired in much the
Bituminous is a soft coal, high in
volatiles, and produces more smoke and soot than anthracite or coke.
It is used mostly for industrial work.
In the United States, coal is graded
according to size by passing it through screens or sieves of different
sized mesh to separate the pieces. Each size is known by a specific
For a coal furnace, the following
table shows the diameter of the mesh through which the largest piece
of a given size of coal will pass. Thus, egg size coal will pass
through a mesh which is 3 7/16 inches in diameter but not through
one which is 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Stove coal will pass through
a 2 1/2 inch but not a 1 9/16 inch mesh, etc.
Anthracite for a coal furnace
|Name of size
||Diameter of mesh
|more than 4
Sizes of anthracite
The first consideration in burning anthracite
in a coal furnace is to get the proper size for the furnace. Anthracite
is obtainable in several sizes, and each size is best suited for a particular
- Egg size is intended for fire pots not
less than 24 inches wide and at least 16 inches in depth.
- Stove coal is suited for fire pots 16
inches wide and 12 inches deep. Most home furnaces are designed to burn
- Chestnut is made for kitchen stoves and
hot water boilers, where the fire pot is 10 to 16 inches deep and approximately
20 inches in diameter, and for furnaces with this size firebox.
- Pea coal is used for kitchen ranges and
water heaters, and can be used in the furnace, provided there is an
excellent natural draft and special care is taken, when shaking the
grates, not to allow the hot coals to fall.
The very small sizes, No. 1 buck wheat and
No. 2 buckwheat, are intended for use in heating equipment with mechanical
stoking devices and forced-draft blowers.
What size to burn in a coal furnace
Coal, or any fuel for that matter, must have
air if it is to burn. Large-sized coal, when put in the firebox, will
not pack very close together, and there will be ample space between each
piece of coal for the circulation of air. Air enters from the bottom of
the fire and must work its way through the entire fire bed.
Small-sized coal, put into a fire pot, packs
to-together so that only a small amount of air can penetrate. If only
a little air circulates, the fire will burn poorly and go out. Small-sized
coal can be used for kitchen ranges or hot water heaters because the fire
bed is not very deep.
While each furnace is best suited for one
size of coal, it is possible to use a smaller size. This is generally
done for the purpose of economy, as the smaller anthracite coals are somewhat
cheaper per ton than the larger sizes. Using smaller coal in a coal furnace
is also a very good means of retarding the fire during warm weather.
Lastly, it is sometimes impossible to get
the larger coal in a coal furnace, and then the small sizes must do. When
burning chestnut and pea coal, a somewhat thinner bed is required. These
small coals pack quite densely, and if you try to build up a full fire
pot with them, the fire will not burn very well. Probably the best method
of burning small coal is to mix it with the regular size.
This is done by putting on a layer of stove
coal and then adding a layer of the smaller.
Start the fire with stove coal, and when
this is burning well, add the first layer of small coal. In a furnace,
the fire bed is many inches thick, and if small-sized coal is used exclusively,
a blower should be provided to force the air up through the fire bed.